Sundeep Bhutoria

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Friday, January 9, 2015

At the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas 2015

At the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas 2015, Gujarat
January 9, 2015, Ahmedabad: Last two days were fast and furious and I worked till late night. I had a late hour long meeting with the Chief Minister of Haryana, Shri Manohar Lal Khattar. During the meeting he expressed his desire that World Federation of United Nations Association (WFUNA) activities should be spread in Haryana and also assured his support.
Shri Khattar, the first BJP Chief Minister of Haryana, was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon but his flight got delayed. As a result, one of the events had to be cancelled as he checked-in late.
In fact, there was a function at 5 PM at the ITC Fortune Landmark hotel for prospective investors which was called off at the eleventh hour. 
With Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar
Shri Khattar was staying in the room opposite mine, so we decided to meet late night.
Before the meeting, I went to Kankaria Lake where a dinner was hosted by the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Smt Anandiben Patel. It was a well organized dinner and the kind of stories that I had heard about Kankaria Lake in the past, seems nowhere close to being true.
If you see the Kankaria Lake now you will find an amazing transformation of the lakefront. Kankaria Lake, the biggest in Ahmedabad, used to be a very dirty and filthy place. There was a local saying - “If you want to kill yourself, go to the Kankaria Lake”. 
At the Kankaria Lake
All that is now history and there is a zoo, water rides, water park, toy trains and entertainment facilities around the lake front.
In the morning I was at the Mahatma Mandir where the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, formally inaugurated the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas 2015. It was a gala affair and I think the most meticulously organized event that I experienced compared to the past Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas experiences.
There was a shloka citation for welcoming the delegates as well as the chanting of Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah. Although the event started 20 minutes late it did not affect anyone because individual names had been marked on the sofas for the invitees. The songs were so soothing that even the Prime Minister's fingers were moving with the rhythm of the music, which everybody noticed on the giant screen.
The South African minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who attened the function in a scarlet sari and aquamarine shawl, caught the fancy of Prime Minister Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.
One thing I noticed at the Mahatma Mandir was that this venue, with a gathering of nearly 5000 people, had uch neat and clean washrooms. Thanks to the Swaach Bharat campaign.
On Wednesday January 7, 2015, I started early and went to meet Mr Sudhir Mehta, a renowned industrialist of the State, this was followed by meetings with few journalists and in the afternoon after visiting Mahatma Mandir I went to meet Mr Umang Hutheesing.
With Umang Hutheesing
Mr Hutheesing collects art as a hobby and is also a fashion designer who belongs to the famous Hutheesingh family of Gujarat. It was nice of him to take me around to his old haveli. The haveli has a lot of history. The present haveli, during the British rule, used to spread over 11 acres. And now, Umang runs his office from there. The way he has kept the heritage property is commendable.
Umanag, who wears many hats, has kept his family legacy alive. In fact, Rabindranath Tagore himself had lived in that haveli and so has Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Umang is from the same Hutheesing family from where Shrimati comes from. 
At the Laxmi Ganthia shop
Shrimati was the first student from Gujarat at Shantiniketan and was also married to the Tagore family. Because of this connection Umang still has old furniture from Jorashanko which he has kept very nicely. Umang’s own grandfather’s brother was married to Krishna Nehru.
After visiting Umang’s studio and house, I made a stopover at the local Laxmi Ganthia shop near Nehru Nagar and in the evening I met Mr Sanket Shah - the man behind Gujarat Literature Festival.
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